Bulls tied for best record in the NBA

The Chicago Bulls accomplished several things last night.   They tied the Spurs for the best record in the NBA.   They went one step closer towards winning out on the season.   They beat the last team in the league they hadn’t yet defeated (only team to beat everyone at least once).  

They also saw Joakim Noah retweak his ankle and Ronnie Brewer sprain his thumb.   Brewer’s questionable tonight, Noah said he was fine after the game was over.   We’ll wait and see if they play. 

In theory, the Bulls have more on the line in the final game of the season than most teams.

A win, and they have a chance to steal home court from the San Antonio Spurs.   The Spurs play in Phoenix in their finale, and they seem content to rest players and see what happens.  Since the game is in Phoenix, the Suns will come out with at least some energy for their home crowd.

Worst case scenario, a Bulls win forces them into a tiebreak scenario where the tiebreaker comes down to random draw.   When you think about it, how ridiculous is it that it comes down to random draw?    Why not go winning percentage against playoff teams?   Point differential in their head to head?  Point differential on the season?    Something?   Anything?

I’ll never understand how you ever get to a tie break that’s random draw, especially when the first set of tiebreaks is reasonably likely to end up tied (an east/west team always play exactly twice, so the odds of splitting are pretty high, and then you just have opposing conference record before going to random draw).

That aside, San Antonio clearly doesn’t care about home court against Chicago and would prefer to make sure everyone is well rested into the playoffs.   They may still win, but it’s not their first priority.  The Bulls prefer to keep momentum going and will look to win their finale which should be a cake walk despite the historical nature of the Nets beating Chicago in important games at the end of seasons.

Loose ends

Besides having the best record in the NBA (or at least a share of it) with a win, Tom Thibodeau would tie Paul Westphal as the winningest rookie head coach in the history of the league with a win tonight.    Yeah, that’s a coach of the year lock right there.   I’m not sure how meaningful that record is, but you only get one chance to set records like that, so it’s pretty cool that Tom’s going to pull it off.

The Bulls should play home games on Saturday and Monday when the playoffs start due to the Blackhawks having games scheduled on Sunday/Tuesday.   It will be interesting to see how the Bulls adjust to the playoff tempo as they seem to play better with more frequent games when they’re in rhythm.  I’d bet the Bulls would vote to play games in back to back pairs every night rather than having off days.

The rest of the playoffs

The East bracket is all locked up:

Chicago vs Indy
Miami vs Philly
Boston vs New York
Orlando vs Atlanta

The only possible upset I see is Boston falling to New York

The West bracket still has a lot of question marks

The Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets are tied with a game left each.   The Hornets go up against the Mavericks who potentially have something on the line with a win, so they’ll likely lose.

However, New Orleans owns the tie breaker (better division record in the same division), so they’d only fall behind Memphis with a Memphis win and a loss.

Memphis plays the Clippers in L.A. which probably won’t be an easy game because Blake Griffin will want to wow the home crowd and is young enough that he won’t be throwing in the towel.

Does Memphis want to pass New Orleans though?

That question might depend on what they think happens in the rest of the night.

You see the Lakers are going up against the Kings, and unless they rest Kobe/Gasol, it seems fairly unfathomable that they lose this game, but after losing Andrew Bynum last night to injury, you have to think they might at least consider the thought.  

However, if they lose and Dallas wins, then Dallas passes them for the two seed.  I don’t know that the Lakers particularly care all that much about playing Dallas on the road, but that’s probably enough motivation to keep them in the game.

On the high end, the best teams would like to face New Orleans (presently matched up against the Lakers) in the first round.   Without David West, they’re not as good as they’re record.  

On the low end, everyone wants to avoid the Lakers and play Dallas whom people feel there’s the greatest chance of an upset against.

If you’re Memphis, would you rather lose and play the Spurs for sure or win and probably play the Lakers but have some chance of playing the Mavs?   I think you try to win, because the only way you get out of the first round is against the Mavs even though it’s highly unlikely the cards drop in such a way that you play them.

Given what’s on the line for all the teams, I predict the West shapes up like this, but it’s clearly in flux:
San Antonio vs New Orleans
L.A. vs Memphis
Dallas vs Portland
OKC vs Denver

The only upset I see there is Dallas vs Portland.

Final thoughts

Like most Bulls fans, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited for the playoffs to begin.   It’s an odd feeling to get to a home stretch of games and not have much riding on them because you’ve got nothing left to prove in the regular season and everything that’s meaningful already locked up.

Comments

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  • Agreed. The boys are looking pretty sharp despite being banged up. Hopefully the extra days off between games will help with that.

  • The bulls have a better point differential so it won't come down to a random drawing. I didn't check both teams records against the other playoff teams (this is probably the tie breaker).

  • In reply to tmckendr:

    It is a random draw. NBA already stated that.

  • In reply to tmckendr:

    Great second half run and win by the Bulls. The Knicks are a very frustrating team to watch when they are hitting a lot of their 3s and their shots overall, at one point it looked as though they were hitting everything in the first half but the Bulls kept the game close despite the Knicks 55 point first half. The team came out focused in the second half and jumped on the Knicks with a big 26 to 2 run and locked the Knicks down on defense and pretty much put the game away despite the Knicks getting within 6 in the second half. With the win the Bulls beat every team in the league and are tied for the best overall record in the league. I'm hoping having the best record in the east and overall will really help the Bulls get to the finals and ultimately win the title and all of the guys can get and remain healthy for this hopefully long playoff run.

  • In reply to tmckendr:

    I believe the Bulls should rest their starters. I don't see SA winning in Phoenix with starters on the bench. Loved the fact that Boozer pulled down 22 boards. Cringed on how useless he was near the basket against journeymen Turiaf and Jeffries. Am I the only fan who sees a complete degeneration of this guy's game near the basket? How is he going to be better against Hibbert or Howard? This guy has lost his lift but as long as the Bulls continue winning apparently it is a non-story. PS- his failure to take a charge against a much smaller player near the bucket was pathetic.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I agree with your comments about Boozer - 22 boards are of course great but he really seems to have lost his way with the ball in his hands down low. Earlier this year, when he first came back after his injury, he was showing off some pretty sweet post moves, and I recall more than once watching on TV and shouting "THAT's what you do with the ball down low." Last night he either didn't seem to know how to put a move on his defender, or got his shot blocked, or didn't finish strong at the rim. Those who have said his lift seems gone may have a point. He's still pretty dangerous with his fallway jumper but I for one would like to see a LOT more pick and roll with him and Rose - as long as Booz can finish off those plays!

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    Boozer does not seem to have good hands, unlike a good NFL receiver he does not look the ball into his hands, he is already looking away toward making a move.

    The only noticable above average skill that Boozer seems to have is that he is a good maybe very good interior passer, and appears to be a willing passer also.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    also has exceptional touch around the rim, and skilled with both hands

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's remarkable how Boozer only has one noticeably above average skill yet is 6th in field goal percentage and 3rd in defensive rebounding percentage of all active players. Maybe you're being a little harsh on the guy?

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Tonight's game is for Thibs. He'll tie Westphaul for most wins by a rookie coach at 62. Go Bulls!

  • In reply to zachmanisback:

    +1

    I doubt he is too fussed about records. But what a way for the players to say thanks to Thibs for his efforts this year. Yes he will be COY but records are also something special.

    And as a fan I too want that 62nd win to say my BIG THANKS to Thibs for an incredible season (so far!!)

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    The only positive spin on losing tonight would be the parrallel to the 91 Bulls record of 61-21 to start the championship years.

  • In reply to zachmanisback:

    Rose won't play that hard tonight because this one is not on national TV, and hopefully Deng doesn't play 44 damn minutes. Thibs is idiot if our starters play more than 30-35 minutes. The bench mob can handle the Nets.

  • In reply to calle3:

    there some madness to coah thibs antics. For one he is working out all the kinks in our defense and offense. setting up plays and working through mistakes. We got this far, he knows what hes doing.

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    amen

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    Playing Deng 40 minutes in a meaningless game is ridiculous, thibs is the only coach whos doing that...save that sh*t for the playoffs. They don't need to play 30 min to work out kinks, 20 min is good enough.

  • In reply to calle3:

    not if your a perfectionist like our coach thibs.

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    i guess its ok for this year...but if he doesn't ease up a bit, they will eventually tune him out

  • In reply to calle3:

    yes i agree. check lakers our for example. but with winning rings. they shouldnt

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    resting players is for wusses...man up people

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    thank you!

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    Amen!

    and Pops isn't being tuned out in San Antonio. Don't see it here, esp with Rose as the leader

  • In reply to calle3:

    Sorry, off topic, but does anybody know who might have this season's/2010-2011 NBA player scoring leaders by quarter? I looked around for quite a while, but couldn't find it(Hoopdata, 82games, B-BallReference etc.). 82games had a "Randon Stats" listing, but that was from a few years ago. Appreciate any knowledge.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    As long as we are looking for stats,

    Anybody know the Bulls point differential by half, first vs second.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    2.9 vs 4.4.

    Source: http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/average-scoring-margin - http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/average-half-margin

  • In reply to calle3:

    aren't you cheering for Miami?

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    all i gotta say is we got a deep squad that will take us deep in the playoffs! GO BULLS!!!

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    sorry lakers, sorry boston, sorry heat! : )

  • In reply to calle3:

    I see many of us have seen Boozer's play as soft in the past month or so, whereas his interior play early in his season was more aggressive. But think about it, its not like he all of a sudden lost the ability to take it to the rim. Is it possible he's been playing a little safe? Scared of injury and saving the aggressive play for the post season?

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I am not too worried about Boozer's play. He was ok yesterday. He did miss some shots but if we can guess who is going to be a little mentally in the last few days, it is going to be Boozer.
    And one thing about Boozer...he depends on Rose and Noah in a couple of ways.
    1. Rose has to be going on offense to free him up and Noah has to be doing his regular things defensively so that Boozer can guard his weak man, try to strip the ball etc..
    2. If Rose and Noah are playing with a lot of energy, then Boozer gets into the act...otherwise he can start doing ill-advised things on both offense/defense.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Miss some shots, he shot 5-19 against a team of midgets. NY played all guards and small forwards the entire game, except for Turiafs 20+minutes at center, and Turiaf is no more than 6'9".

    Lets face it, Boozer is a fall away jump shooter, thats what qualifies for a post game these days.

  • In reply to calle3:

    I agree. I'd make it more like 20-25 minutes and not even play Noah with that nagging ankle injury. nets without D will and humpries. bench can beat them

  • In reply to zachmanisback:

    Link to The Bench Mob's website

    http://www.benchmob.co/

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Yesterday's night game was on National TV. Today, the line-up should be Pargo, Lucas, Scal, Asik and Butler. Spurs will lose again today and the Bulls should still win against NJ even with a scrub line-up.
    Or play the starters for the first quarter and then start the backup group.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Rose and the boys were in lasts nights game right down to the end, so I doubt that Thibs does much if anything differently tonight than any other night. He is kind of stuborn like that.

    I wouldn't mind seeing the bench play the entire second and fourth quarters.

  • In reply to tmckendr:

    I agree a random draw between the Bulls and Spurs to decide home court based on them having identical records is very stupid and poor use of other meaningful stats that you suggest Doug.

    Sucks to see Noah to roll his ankle and Ronnie get banged up but I like that we are not resting guys for games like those other creme puff teams (Celtics, Spurs, and Lakers taking the last chunk of games off...maybe they do suck that much though! LOL )

  • In reply to smiley:

    I don't know, I think it's good to keep them playing some, but Thibs could reduce key guys minutes though. Or just rest the guys that are banged up some.

  • In reply to efaily:

    IMO they should come out strong tonight and then play the bench more in the 2nd half than usual. No reason for anyone to play over 40 minutes thats for sure.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Bulls vs Nets....am i crazy for thinking that the Blazers are coming out of the west???

  • In reply to Jerarod:

    OKC looks as dangerous as well. Which ever team from the east we will be happy to knock off and win a championship ring. Our defense will be stepping up big time during the playoffs. Because we will be focused on 1 team at time. which Coach Thibbs is the best at what he does. If perkins did not get injured last year, Boston would of won another ring. keep that in mind. Also coach thibbs stopped the LBJ train last year in the year as well.

  • In reply to Jerarod:

    I can't see the Blazers coming out of the West, but they are awfully dangerous and playing really good basketball.

  • In reply to Jerarod:

    God win bulls. Boozer looks in good shape ( 22 rds damn !!). Noah looks better than the last nights. I hope Brewer will be ready for SATURDAY !!

  • In reply to Jerarod:

    If Bynum is hurt, I see the Spurs eventually coming out. So, Thibs going to play the starters today based on Bynum's MRI. Memphis and Blazers don't have the staying power with injuries to their most important players. Dallas is dependent on Chandler for defense and Terry for offense as Nowitzki will show up. They are a wild-card IMO. They can beat the Lakers if they are clicking.

  • In reply to Jerarod:

    it is ridiculous. Every other scenario has a lengthy list of tie breakers, except for the finals, why?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think the team with the MVP should get home court :-)

  • In reply to tmckendr:

    The tiebreaker is random draw, i was only putting forth ideas on what would be better than random draw.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    i heard that they will see the team who's got the better record against his division's opponents. In this case, bulls beat Spurs

  • In reply to deewaves:

    That only applies if teams are in the same division.

    Official rule is random draw.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Point differential's a great suggestion. Even better would be a simple (avg. MOV * opp. W-L%). It's 2011. This can be done and expressed extremely easily and incorporated in many tiebreakers. Record vs. playoff teams is a bit skewed by favoring teams in worse divisions, no?

  • In reply to LittleAlex:

    Overall strength of schedule would be fair too.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    May as well make the tie breaker "whichever team plays in the West".

  • In reply to LittleAlex:

    The Spurs starters are actually playing tonight.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Do you know where to get the most latest & most accurate info for who is playing/sitting tonight? Final night tonight in my fantasy championship matchup!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Doug,

    Have you been shopping around for your 1.7% tattoo yet?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    "1.7%: Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good". :)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    yep, & in the NBA, where the best of the best in the world play, you really need both. Good luck over the next 2 months Bullies!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Maybe it's just me, but something about Kendall Gill really bothers me. It may be because he sounds like Barney the dinosaur, or perhaps it's because he is full of nervous energy and botches overused basketball cliches.

    Just had to get that one out there.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    62 wins ... equals the 97-98 team ... anyone who says they predicted that at the start of the year is a liar. :)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I called it...... okay I'm a liar.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I was at the UC for the March 11th game against Atlanta. Rasual Butler played 2:33 of garbage time. I posted here that Butler looked impressive, he had excellent size for a SG and seemed quite athletic. I thought he could be a good player for the Bulls.

    Well Butler showed that tonight with 10 points in 13 min while Bogans had 3 points in 22min. He

  • In reply to Edward:

    Yea, The Suns last year stuck to using their 10 man rotation at it served them well enough so agree BenchMob have earned the playoff time as well. They (like Phx last year) are an asset because they have an identity.

    Go Bulls

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Well it looks like the Bulls are going to get the best record if the way the Spurs have started against the Suns is any indication. Manu injured (not sure how serious yet), so that hurts the chances of having the best record against the Spurs mattering anyway.

    I hope for Nash's sake that the Suns trade him somewhere next year, he deserves another shot on a good team before he retires.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Interesting thought on Nash, he said he didn't want to be traded.

    Looks like the Spurs aren't going to take this one too seriously, so Phoenix likely wins it. I don't think it matters in any practical sense though.

    It probably means a lot more to the Bulls to have the best record and prove themselves than the Spurs who've already got rings to prove themselves.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I think Nash is just being polite, he doesn't want to be one of those guys that demands a trade.

    Obviously it's good for the Bulls if he stays on the Suns, but taking off my homer hat Nash is a great player and seems to be a genuinely good guy and he deserves to at least make it to the finals.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    And Nash stopped Rondo getting the assist title!!
    Seeing Rondo not take an open fastbreak layup so he could wait 5 seconds for another celtic to arrive so he could pad is assists stats was pathetic so really glad he lost out on that. Imagine if all players in the League were like Nash, Derrick, Pierce and Duncan, (devoted to their team) we wouldn't be facing a lock-out next year!!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Here's an interesting stat (not including tonight's game): D Rose ranks 11th in the league in Free Throws Attempted, at 547. Amongst those with 500 or more attempts (eleven players), he ranks THIRD in percentage at .861, behind only Kevin Martin (.887) and Kevin Durant (.880). Not bad for someone who had to learn to get to the line during the season, and who was shooting in the low %70's earlier in the season! Yet another reason why he's the MVP! When do they announce those awards, by the way?

  • In reply to petert23:

    early in the 2nd round. He should be showing it off infront of Howard

  • In reply to petert23:

    After the Dec 18th Clippers game where Rose missed the tying FT and Bulls lost - he's shot 89%.

    Prior to that Dec 18th game Rose was 76%. AMAZING!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Came down to free throws but the Suns got it done, Bulls stand alone as the #1 team in the NBA!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Just simply an AMAZING (regular) season. I LOVE THIS GAME!

  • In reply to petert23:

    Here Here.

    And well done Thibs for guiding the team to the record.

    Thank You Chicago Bulls

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Interesting comments here from players regarding Granger's remarks ("Stop Rose, you stop the Bulls"). LINK: es.pn/hXockc

    I'm absolutely looking into it too much, but I'm imaginging Boozer's "I appreciate that", had a hidden subtext: "I'll rememember that and let the elbows fly on the court, then we'll see what he has to say".

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Thibs lost the Finals game 7 last year on the road. So I think Thibs finds best record quite practical.

    All of us have out opinions of who is coming out of the West, but truth is nobody knows. However, Thibs knows no matter what happens Bulls will have homecourt. And I think he prefers that over his situation last year, imo.

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